General Identity Relationships

Christmas Humbug

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Hey! Don’t get me wrong. As a boy I loved Christmas! Every Christmas Eve my family would pile in the old Ford to see the lights, only to come home to a bunch of presents!  It was amazing to me how Santa timed his stop at our house right when we were gone! When I was ten years old, I got the best present ever!  Hot Wheel’s track! I stayed up till midnight racing my cars!  

“Son, time for bed! It’s midnight!” I heard from my parent’s bedroom.

That gift has stayed with me decades later. Those tracks made it with me to college, where we guys would play scalable time trials in our bachelor apartment. I still have those Hot Wheel’s tracks! When a young boy comes over, we get them out for a few races!

Brings back fun memories!

Somewhere along the way, however, Christmas changed for me. Sure, I highly value Jesus’ birth and what God’s gift of salvation through Him means.  I was twelve when the dots connected between Christmas and Easter and I took a step of faith towards salvation.  But, sometimes, the festivities get to me. 

Decoration FooFoo!

My wife does an amazing job at transforming our house into a winter wonderland. Lights, scented candles, Christmas carols non-stop, fireplace crackling away. Frankly, it’s all wonderful and truly adds to the season’s ambiance.  Even the gifts under the tree remind me of how blessed we are.

Feeling sad and alone

Humbug Me

Then, why for more than a decade did I have this awful feeling at Christmas?  Sad, discouraged, depressed. Strange how one can be surrounded by those he loves the most and yet feel so alone.  In fact, putting up the Christmas tree seemed to trigger my humbugness. 

It wasn’t until I explained my Christmas blues to my counselor that he shed light on what could be causing such doldrums.  Over a decade ago, my mom died of cancer on December 23. Picking out a casket on Christmas Eve and speaking at her funeral a few days later (on what would have been their 49th wedding anniversary) is at the core of my Christmas sadness. 

I do not blame God. In fact, I blame no one. I’m grateful my mom knew Christ and that I could honor her as her son at her funeral.  I’ve come to realize that Christ came to heal the pain sin and death bring. For over a decade, I had this weird notion that I couldn’t enjoy Christmas because of what happened.  There was only one who liked my humbugness, Satan. Anything to get a Jesus-follower down in the dumps, missing the true joy of the Season.

Things Have Changed

That weight has been lifted. I’ve been learning how to give it to Jesus; to cast my burdens on Him. The past couple of Christmases has been better. I still catch myself thinking I’m not allowed to laugh and smile and rejoice during Christmas, but honestly, those times are fading away. What is coming increasingly is a peace that passes all understanding. A renewed sense of Christ present with me. Him truly living his life through me at Christmas and every day of the year.

What Do I Want for Christmas?

I want Jesus. I want to relish his nearness. To sit at His feet. To feel His hand on my shoulder. To see Him look me in the face and whisper, 

“I love you, David. Merry Christmas.”

Warrior  On!

David Riffel is the Founder and Executive Director of Having gone through his warrior years (18-30) essentially without a mentor, God has placed in him a heart for warriors, to come alongside them in various ways as they figure out life. David’s newly released book, Mentoring Warriors: Coming Alongside Young Men 18-30, outlines principles for mentoring and gives advice for warriors in six key areas of life: self-management, life skills, education/career, relationships, faith, and identity.

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